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Washington Exchange Website Stumbles Out Of The Gates

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network

It was a rocky start to Obamacare in Washington. The state’s new health insurance website is up now, but it was shut down for most of the day because of technical glitches.

Misti Hlavacek set her alarm early to get up and sign up for healthcare. She couldn’t wait to log onto and select an insurance plan. Instead:

“It just said error, loading page, reload,” says Hlavacek.

Hlavacek vented her disappointment on the Exchange’s Facebook page: “Boo,” she wrote. Hlavacek is unemployed, uninsured and has pre-existing conditions.

“Being able to sign up would have been a huge relief for me and just all that weight lifted off my shoulders,” she says.

“The launch could not have gone any worse,” says Bharat Shyam, Washington’s former chief information officer -- and a big fan of Obamacare. Back in January, he warned in a report that the race to meet an October 1st deadline could result in “major flaws.”

“This date was coming for a long time and the launch is just terrible,” Shyam says.

An Exchange spokesman called the problems “bumps in the road” and said success would be measured in the coming months, not the first hours.

Deloitte LLP got a $50M contract to build Washington’s Exchange.

On the Web:

Washington Health Plan Finder - official site

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."